On one hand, it makes sense that Bill Belichick didn’t talk to Josh McDaniels about staying with the New England Patriots until after the Super Bowl. The Patriots were focused on trying to win a championship.
While the story of McDaniels turning down the Indianapolis Colts after agreeing to be their head coach is still pretty crazy and somewhat baffling, Belichick told media members at the league meetings in Orlando that he and McDaniels hadn’t substantially talked about McDaniels staying on as the Patriots offensive coordinator until after Super Bowl LII. That came after the Colts had come under the impression McDaniels would take the job. Assistants aren’t allowed to officially accept a job until their teams are eliminated from the playoffs.
“Once that game ended, I think that really gave Josh and I a chance to sit down [Tuesday] and talk more directly about the situation, as opposed to, ‘We really want to talk about the game and what we need to do to try to compete in that game.’ That’s basically what happened,” Belichick said, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “Before the game, I’d say we had minimal discussions. I’d say we had much deeper and longer and more in-depth and more constructive discussions immediately after the game.”
And it was then that Belichick talked McDaniels into staying. It has been reported often since then that no promises were made about McDaniels being Belichick’s successor as head coach in New England, but that’s practically impossible to believe. By turning down the Colts, McDaniels might have ruined his chances to get another head coaching job anywhere but New England. There were probably more layers discussed than just a succession plan, but Belichick said “we were able to work some things out.”
“I’m very glad, based on the meeting we had — there were a number of things that happened — that we were able to work that out and keep him with us,” Belichick said, according to ESPN.
Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels together
Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels together
EDEN PRAIRIE, MN - FEBRUARY 02: Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots talks during the New England Patriots practice on February 2, 2018 at Winter Park in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The New England Patriots will play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII on February 4. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - AUGUST 8: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick chats with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as the team does stretching exercises during training camp at the Gillette Stadium practice field in Foxborough, Mass., Aug. 8, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots talks with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels before the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 25, 2017: Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (L) and head coach Bill Belichick (R) of the New England Patriots walk off the field for halftime of a preseason game on August 25, 2017 against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. New England won 30-28. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - AUGUST 29: New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, left, and Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels, right, talk during training camp at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Aug. 29, 2017. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 12: Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady #12 of the New England look on during a time out in the first half against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on December 12, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
02 October 2016: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and New England Patriots offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels chat during warm up. The Buffalo Bills defeated the New England Patriots 16-0 in a regular season NFL game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 11: Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (L) and head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots talk on the field before the team's NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. New England won 23-21. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 8: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots confers with Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick in the second half during a game with the Washington Redskins at Gillette Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
November 16, 2014: Indianapolis Colts head coach Bill Belichick and Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels talk on the sidelines during a football game between the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots gets a Gatorade shower as he celebrates with eefensive coordinator Matt Patricia and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels near the end of the game against the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 10: Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels talk as the New England Patriots practice at the practice field at Gillette Stadium for Saturday's home playoff game against Denver. (Photo by Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
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The entire ordeal will go down in NFL history, and it could even lead to rule changes for assistant coaches interviewing with teams when they’re still alive in the playoffs. It’s hard for teams and coaches to concentrate fully on game-planning for playoff games through the Super Bowl and also juggle assistants interviewing for other jobs. That apparently is how McDaniels had one foot out of the door to Indianapolis before Belichick finally had a meaningful conversation with him about staying. And it’s still a little surprising McDaniels turned down a head-coaching job to remain a coordinator with the Patriots without any assurance he’d get a chance to be New England’s head coach down the line, but that’s what has been reported.
It all worked out for the Colts, who seem happy with their choice of Frank Reich, and the Patriots have to be happy to not lose their offensive coordinator. All it took was Belichick talking McDaniels into it.